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Upbeat BJP looks to cement ties

Mayavati

New Delhi, July 30: After forcing Mayavati to bend, the BJP has indicated that it is prepared to put the acrimony caused by the Jagmohan resignation issue behind and “strengthen” their alliance to fight the impending elections — to local bodies in Uttar Pradesh and Parliament.

The BJP’s parliamentary board, its apex decision-making body, met this evening at Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s residence.

“We want that in future such events should not be repeated and the alliance should continue to serve the interests of the people of Uttar Pradesh. We want the alliance to start preparing seriously for the local bodies’ and Lok Sabha elections,” general secretary Pramod Mahajan told reporters after the meeting.

Mahajan, however, said there was no quid pro quo involved in Mayavati’s retraction of her demand for the Union minister’s sack. He said today’s meeting, chaired by party chief M. Venkaiah Naidu, did not discuss the Taj corridor controversy, being probed by the CBI on the Supreme Court’s directive.

Mahajan scotched speculation of a “deal” on the probe set off by Mayavati’s repeated statement that she was “assured” by Vajpayee and deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani that her complaints about the project would be “given proper consideration”.

“The CBI probe is under the Supreme Court’s direction. The Centre has no role. The probe will be fair and independent under the SC’s direction,” the BJP leader said. He also clarified that Vajpayee had not given any “assurance” to Mayavati.

Advani, too, maintained that Mayavati has not been given any assurance. “There are no assurances,” he told the Rajya Sabha in response to a question.

Mahajan said the meeting did not dwell on yesterday’s “unfortunate” incidents that saw Bahujan Samaj Party MPs stall Parliament over the resignation demand. “We do not want to dwell on the problems. All we want to do now is to fight the Lok Sabha polls and strengthen the NDA coalition.”

The BJP’s Uttar Pradesh MPs were, however, not ready to believe that things were hunky-dory. About 10 of them met Naidu and told him that whatever decision the board would take would have to be in the party’s “best interests”. They also stressed that with elections just a year away, Mayavati should not ignore their problems relating to their Lok Sabha constituencies.

But unlike yesterday, none of them mentioned withdrawing support to Mayavati. Mahajan said a mechanism would be evolved so that the MPs could meet the chief minister every two or three months and share their problems with her.

Budget session put off

Mayavati today deferred the budget session of the Assembly by 14 days, reports our special correspondent in Lucknow.

The official reason is “delay in the printing of relevant documents”. But observers said the decision was prompted by her reluctance to face the House with the Opposition looking united to dislodge her tenuous coalition.

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